The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned unprecedented challenges for Americans, who over the last five months have had to deal with layoffs, school closures, event cancellations and more. Though these are certainly some of the more talked-about results of a pandemic that has irrevocably altered the American way of life, the stay-at-home orders are also bringing about an enormous set of challenges for couples all over the U.S. According to family attorneys working all across the nation, a spike in divorces is beginning to emerge and may only become exacerbated as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.
This is especially true in California – where strict social distancing measures continue to be in place, and couples suddenly find themselves spending too much time together and not enough time socializing with other friends, distracting themselves with work, or juggling family and household tasks. If you’re one of the many couples facing insurmountable challenges and are considering divorce as the only viable option, consider speaking with an Irvine divorce attorney who can guide you through the process.
Accounting for the Discord
It’s long been established that spending too much time with your spouse can lead to marital discourse and its eventual doom. A study from the University of Washington reveals that divorces usually increase after the summer months or the holiday season when couples are together for longer periods of time (in fact, January is often referred to as divorce month!)
Recent reports out of China only confirm these findings, suggesting that the pandemic’s lockdown measures led to a substantial increase in divorces among Chinese couples living in central China – one of the hardest-hit areas of the pandemic. The cities of Xian and Dazhou reported record-high numbers of divorce filings early in March, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
Conversely, taking too much time apart can also lead to strife among couples, and that’s an additional side effect of the pandemic for couples who were perhaps separated due to travel restrictions at the time that the lockdowns began occurring. What’s more, the pandemic has acted as an ever more pressing reminder of a couple’s dysfunction – it’s not necessarily that spending more time together leads to more discord, but rather that this extra time brings to the surface deeper rooted issues affecting the relationship, such as incompatibility, infidelity and constant conflict.
There are a variety of factors that could influence whether a couple will be able to survive COVID-19 together. The age at which the couple married, whether or not they have a stable financial situation post-pandemic, and whether or not they have the emotional and intellectual maturity to confront these issues head-on. Whatever the case may be, California attorneys are already seeing a spike in divorces due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s unlikely that this spike won’t continue well beyond the point at which the pandemic finally comes to an end.
Considering Divorce? Here’s What You Should Do
If you’ve arrived at the conclusion that divorce is truly your only option, then there are a variety of steps you can take to ensure the dissolution of your marriage is resolved as quickly as possible. To begin with, if you’re planning on getting divorced in California, make sure that you have been a resident of the state for at least six months, and plan to file within a county in which you have lived for at least three months. Residency requirements are essential to complete your divorce in California, so be sure you meet those requirements before you initiate your divorce.
If the marriage resulted in children, determining child custody and support will be one of the most pressing and important steps to finalizing your divorce. Oftentimes, parents agree to share custody, but in some circumstances, sole custody is sought when one parent poses a particular threat to the family. Regardless of who will end up with custody – shared or otherwise – some parents may find that they won’t be able to support their child on their salary alone. If you think you might need temporary child support or alimony while your divorce is being finalized, you can petition for such a request by completing a specific set of forms.
You’ll also want to determine whether you and your spouse can file for what is known in California as a summary divorce, a proceeding in which the divorce and its terms are valid immediately following the closing of the proceeding. This type of divorce can only be accomplished if the marriage dissolution is uncontested, there are no children, and there is no real property that forms part of the marriage.
Next, you’ll want to begin the difficult process of gathering information related to your marriage, in an effort to determine what your divorce agreement will ultimately look like. You’ll need to have documentation that proves both your and your spouse’s individual earnings, the assets you own – both as a couple and separately, and how much you owe in debt to creditors. You’ll need copies of documents such as bank and investment statements, mortgage and loan documents, pay stubs, W-2 forms and tax returns, deeds, vehicle and watercraft titles, life and health insurance documents, utility bills, and proof of ownership and appraisals for antiquities, art, collectibles, and valuable jewelry. In addition, you’ll want to calculate approximately how much your monthly expenses amount to, so you can calculate how much you will need after the divorce.
Once you have gathered all of this information and assessed whether all of the property and debt can be attributed as part of the marriage, you will likely begin negotiating with your spouse the appropriate division of your property, debt, and assets.
Get the Help You Need From Our Irvine Divorce Attorney
At this point in time, you might want to consider hiring an attorney – particularly if your marriage has a particular complex web of property and debt and would require the counsel and expertise of a knowledgeable attorney. Negotiating with your spouse at a moment when tensions are already flaring – due to the pandemic, the divorce, and more – can be daunting. Contact our Irvine divorce attorney today.